Crime

SLO developer wants a new name. Ex-girlfriend says he’s trying to hide his violent past

San Luis Obispo developer Ryan Petetit listens in court during his second arraignment in September 2016. He has now filed in Los Angeles County to change his name.
San Luis Obispo developer Ryan Petetit listens in court during his second arraignment in September 2016. He has now filed in Los Angeles County to change his name. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

Update 12:30 p.m. May 3:

This article has been updated to clarify the nature of Petetit’s open plea of no contest to five felonies. Though the convictions have been certified by the court, Petetit has the option to withdraw his plea depending on the sentence handed down by Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman at a hearing now scheduled for June 27.

According to Petetit’s attorney, Patrick Fisher, Harman has the discretion to sentence him to as little as probation or as much as five years and eight months in state prison. It was unclear Friday whether the county Probation Department has yet submitted its recommended sentence.

In addition, Fisher provided The Tribune Thursday with a copy of Petetit’s birth certificate showing his legal birth name is Ryan Joseph Wright.

“As I understand, his mother and stepfather simply began identifying Ryan as ‘Petetit’ following their marriage, but it is unclear whether his name was ever properly changed to Petetit,” Fisher wrote in an email. “Nonetheless, the current name-change process he is undertaking should clear up that mess.”

Saying his client is “being completely aboveboard and transparent,” Fisher said noted that he filed for the name change prior to sentencing, and that he’s “seeking to be sentenced as Ryan Wright and to live his life as Ryan Wright.”

Original article

A once up-and-coming San Luis Obispo County developer who pleaded no contest to felony domestic violence charges in November has filed in Los Angeles County to have his name changed.

Ryan Joseph Petetit — who pleaded no contest in November 2018 to five felony charges including inflicting corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, assault, false imprisonment and dissuading a witness — filed a petition in February seeking to change his name from Ryan Joseph Petetit to Ryan Joseph Wright, according to court records filed in Los Angeles Superior Court obtained by The Tribune.

A home address listed on the petition states that he now lives in downtown Los Angeles.

The domestic violence case against Petetit, the former CEO of the now-defunct PB Companies, LLC, has dragged on for more than three years in San Luis Obispo Superior Court. Court documents alleged that Petetit drunkenly smashed his girlfriend’s head through a glass window in a domestic violence incident days before Thanksgiving 2015.

He was scheduled to be sentenced in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on Thursday, but that hearing was postponed to May 2.

Petetit Ryan Joseph
Ryan Jospeh Petetit, 28, former CEO of once-prominent development firm PB Companies, has a $2,500 warrant for his arrest after failing to appear in court Wednesday. San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office

On April 16, another former girlfriend of Petetit’s, unrelated to his criminal case, who is currently suing him for similar alleged violence, filed an objection in Los Angeles court to Petetit’s petition.

The woman, whom The Tribune is not naming due to being an alleged victim of domestic violence, stated in a court declaration that Petetit is trying to escape his past.

She pointed out in her declaration that Petetit has a long history of violence and is the subject or a party to multiple past and ongoing lawsuits related to PB Companies business and his own allegedly bad behavior.

“I believe that the petitioner’s sole purpose in seeking this name change is to avoid or evade liability in each of these matters and to avoid the stigma associated with his behavior and his actions,” the woman wrote.

She added: “I also believe if this application is granted, other women will be harmed by the petitioner, as they will not be aware of his significant past of harm and abuse, which has been publicized in San Luis Obispo County through news articles.”

An evidentiary hearing on the woman’s objection will be held in Los Angeles Superior Court on June 25, according to the woman’s attorney, Roger Frederickson.

In Petetit’s criminal case, his defense attorney previously told The Tribune that Petetit entered an open plea, meaning that Superior Court Judge Dodie Harman has the discretion to sentence him to as little as probation or as much as five years and eight months in state prison.

If Harman does rule that prison is appropriate, Petetit may withdraw his plea, resuming proceedings.

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